SF Police Union Claims Bias In Promotions

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The San Francisco police union is calling for an investigation into Chief William Scott’s decision to appoint only men to his command staff in his most recent round of promotions, signaling one of the first challenges from the rank-and-file to the new outside-hire chief.

In a letter obtained by the Chronicle on Wednesday, union attorney Gregg McLean Adam said that the San Francisco Police Officers Association has been “inundated with complaints from both its male and female members” regarding “the failure of the Police Department to promote any female officers” to the command staff in recent weeks.

Scott, who was sworn into office in January after a 27-year career with the Los Angeles Police Department, promoted six senior male officers to command staff positions in February.

Before that, Scott created the position of assistant chief and appointed Interim Chief Toney Chaplin and former Deputy Chief Hector Sainez into those leadership roles.

“To add insult to injury, one female member of the command staff, who is also the (most) senior ranking member of the command staff and a LGBT member, was reassigned to the airport bureau — which denies her the opportunity to use her skill set within the boundaries of the City and County of San Francisco,” the letter states.

This is in reference to Deputy Chief Denise Schmitt, who was reassigned after former Commander Robert Moser took over her role as deputy chief of the administration bureau.

The March 22 letter was sent to the city’s Department of Human Resources, Civil Service Commission and Department on the Status of Women, and the union has not yet received a response, said union President Martin Halloran.

Officials from those agencies did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday evening.

The union was not the first to question the all-male appointments. Police Commissioner Petra DeJesus asked the chief about the decision in a meeting last month, pointing out that his appointments meant that only two members of the 15-member command staff were women.

Scott responded that he counts three civilian directors as part of his command staff, and two of those directors are women.

Including the civilian directors and captains, Scott said, his command staff is 81 percent male and 19 percent female, which reflects the general makeup of the department. The Police Department is about 85 percent male and 15 percent female, he said.

Scott did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday. But Adam argued in the letter that civilian directors are not considered command staffers by the rank-and-file.

In addition to the complaints about Scott’s command staff appointments, Adam said union members were concerned that female officers receive fewer opportunities to join specialized units. He said the overall lack of transparency around the promotion process makes it difficult for officers to gauge if there is “an anti-female bias.”

Sgt. Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice, an organization representing nonwhite officers, said that while she would love to see more women and minorities in leadership positions, she questioned the union’s motives.

The union has a prickly history when it comes to outside-hire chiefs. And just hours after Scott’s hiring was announced, Halloran sent an email to union members stating that Mayor Ed Lee “turned his back on the rank and file police officers” in picking an outside candidate for chief.

“I think they’ve gotten on a bandwagon that happens to be convenient for them so they can derail the chief and create an atmosphere of mistrust,” said Williams, a constant union adversary. “He’s still viewed as an outsider. And I have to say, it’s interesting that they never questioned (former Chief) Greg Suhr, who did the exact same thing with his command staff.”

From The SFGate.com